Life as a lecturer during the pandemic: the untold truths
There have been many untold positive and challenging experiences for lecturers in adult nursing during the pandemic. We are two lecturers working at Middlesex University. One joined in a new position and the other had a new role as an assistant programme pathway leader for the September 2020 BSc adult nursing cohort. Both of us navigated our roles using different pathways and coping strategies in these ‘unprecedented’ times.
Over the now nearly 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been heavy reliance on regular online meetings over ‘Teams’ and ‘Zoom’ as well as numerous phone calls as the main forms of communication to get and to provide information. We have seen widely reported a great feeling of being overwhelmed and ‘Zoomed-out’ during many online meetings with colleagues and students—our university emphasised the importance of having breaks for staff to stretch and take their refreshment and bathroom breaks.
COVID-19 has brought the new norm of remote working as well as the option of working in the office with strict social distancing guidelines. Lecturers and students had to quickly adjust to blended learning with both online learning and face-to-face teaching. Teaching new students, particularly those who started their course during the pandemic, presented experiences that were challenging but also rewarding. We initially met our first year students online, and our students were learning from lecturers they had never met in person. Although virtual teaching of theory via online meetings became the norm, student nurses require certain practical skills that needed to be taught in person via our clinical skills lab. As lecturers, coming face to face while wearing masks and not able to recognise each other was an almost surreal experience. Who was the lecturer and who was the student only became apparent when we stood in front of our respective small groups. There were parallels for us as lecturers with the student experience, between our expectations for ourselves as lecturers and for our students, and their expectations in turn.
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